One-China Principle Remains Unchanged
(for The 50 anniversary of Shanghai Comminique)

Wenzhao Tao
(Researcher, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences )

The ice-breaking trip of U.S. President Richard Nixon to China and the issuance 
of the Sino-U.S. Joint Communique (Shanghai Communique) 50 years ago are 
events of great significance in the history of China-U.S. relations as well 
the international landscape. They ended an era of confrontation and isolation 
and ushered in the normalization of bilateral relations. Since relations 
were still at the initial stage of rapprochement, the Shanghai Communique 
was characterized by both sides as articulating their respective views and 
basic positions on major international issues as well as the Taiwan question.
Issues left out of the communique were clarified and resolved in the Joint 
Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations on Jan.1, 1979, 
and the Joint Communique of Aug. 17, 1982. The three joint communiques are 
an integral whole, embodying the one-China principle in its entirety, which 
boils down to three axioms: There is only one China in the world; Taiwan 
is part of Chinese territory; the Government of the People's Republic of 
China is the sole legitimate government of China.Fifty years have passed, 
and despite many changes in the international situation and the state of 
China-U.S. relations, the one-China principle remains the political foundation 
of the relationship.

Since Joe Biden took office, senior officials have repeatedly stated that 
the U.S. one-China policy has not changed. In reality, however, the U.S. 
side has been doing things that have impacted this policy in various ways.

First, the U.S. has elevated the status of the so-called Six Assurances. 
There is a tendency for pro-Taiwan forces in the United States to belittle 
the three China-U.S. joint communiques and emphasize the Taiwan Relations 
Act. In recent years, they have even elevated the Six Assurances to the 
level of the Taiwan Relations Act, lifting them to the status of a “cornerstone”
 of U.S. policy on Taiwan.In 1982, when the United States and China negotiated 
the Joint Communique of Aug. 17 on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the Reagan 
administration drew up a list of assurances to Taiwan — known as the Six 
Assurances — to reduce the possible shock of the communique to Taiwan. 
These assurances do not amount to law; they are a promise by the Reagan 
administration and are at best an executive order by the president at the 
time. For a long time, when the U.S. government spoke of a one-China policy, 
it always said that it was based on the three communiques and the Taiwan 
Relations Act. It avoided mention of the Six Assurances, as Assistant Secretary 
of State James Kelly did in his statement to Congress on April 21, 2004.But 
in recent years U.S. policy pronouncements —such as the one made by Donald 
Trump's Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell in a speech on Aug. 
31, 2020, to the Heritage Foundation — have quietly shifted to the three 
China-U.S. communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances 
as the basis of U.S. Taiwan policy.In a December 2021 virtual meeting between 
the Chinese and U.S. heads of state, Biden underscored that the United States 
remains committed to the “One-China Policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations 
Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances.” The U.S. is 
not only selling arms to Taiwan on a large scale, but is also sending military 
officers to assist with military training and direct Taiwan's military exercises.
 It is sending warships and aircraft to patrol the Taiwan Strait and is 
helping Taiwan produce advanced weapons, in serious violation of the one-China 
provision of the three joint communiques.

Second, the U.S. has changed the way it references Taiwan's strategic significance.
 Before the Trump administration, mainstream U.S. officials and academia 
avoided talking about whether Taiwan was of strategic importance. Conservatives 
have not shied away from saying that “China controls Taiwan and, presumably,
 the Taiwan Strait. It could therefore effectively deny the U.S. and its 
allies access to critical sea lanes during a conflict ... and significantly 
extend the reach of the PLA in the Asia-Pacific region.”When the Trump 
administration put forward its Indo-Pacific strategy, it included Taiwan, 
calling it a “reliable, capable, natural partner” and stating that Taiwan 
would contribute to the U.S. mission everywhere. The Biden administration 
actually agrees with this. Former diplomat Kurt Campbell said at a meeting 
in Taipei on Dec. 8, 2020, that the partnership between the U.S. and Taiwan 
would remain robust, as the American government valued its commitment to 
Taiwan. He also stated: “There is a broad group of people across the political 
aisle that understand the profound significance of Taiwan and our strategic 
interest in maintaining a strong relationship with Taiwan.”

Third, the U.S. secretary of state, the secretary of defense and the assistant 
secretary for national security have said that the U.S. will “remain committed 
to Taiwan's ability to defend itself,” while also “maintaining our capacity 
to resist any resort to force that would jeopardize the security of the 
people in Taiwan.” That was on Dec. 6.U.S. National Security Adviser Jake 
Sullivan said on Dec. 9 that “[f]rom the point of view of both deterrence 
and diplomacy,” the U.S. is going to do all it can to ensure that the reunification 
of China's mainland with the island of Taiwan by force “never happens.”
 Similar statements have made separatist forces in Taiwan more aggressive, 
for which the United States is responsible.

Fourth, in June and twice in November, members of the U.S. Congress visited 
Taiwan after traveling aboard U.S. military aircraft. Recently, with the 
support of the United States, Lithuania publicly violated the one-China 
principle by allowing Taiwan to open a so-called representative office in 
Lithuania. Senior U.S. officials commended the Lithuanian government for 
its “firm policy.” And U.S. officials openly “appreciated” the Lithuanian 
government's “firm policy.”The U.S. promised “bilateral coordinated action”
 with Lithuania. And immediately after the downgrading of relations between 
China and Lithuania, Lithuania signed a $600 million export credit agreement 
with the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The U.S. also encouraged 
its European allies to support Lithuania. MPs from three Baltic countries 
traveled to Taiwan and met with Tsai Ing-wen.After Nicaragua reestablished 
diplomatic relations with China, senior U.S. officials visited Honduras 
in hope that the new post-election government would maintain “diplomatic 
relations” with Taiwan to help the island consolidate its purported “diplomatic 

For more than a year the U.S. administration under President Joe Biden has 
repeatedly stated that it does not seek conflict with China and does not 
support Taiwan independence. But the facts run counter to the verbal signals.
 In the many communications between China and U.S. over the past year, including 
virtual meetings, phone calls and high-level dialogues, the message from 
the Chinese side has been clear: The Taiwan question is an internal matter 
for China that allows no foreign interference; Taiwan has no future other 
than reunification with the mainland; and the Chinese nation will definitely 
achieve the final reunification of the motherland in its process of national 
rejuvenation. These principles represent the firm will of the Chinese people 
and their government, and it is unshakable. China is fully capable of thwarting 
any secessionist move for Taiwan independence and is prepared to counter 
all forms of interference by external forces.

For a long time, the U.S. has said it does not support independence for 
Taiwan, while at the same time trying to obstruct China's reunification. 
It wants to keep the two sides of the Taiwan Strait separated so it can 
use Taiwan as a card to contain China's development. But this card is a 
dangerous one. If the United States really wants to coexist peacefully with 
China, it should handle Taiwan-related issues with extra caution and not 
play with fire on the Taiwan question.

Finally, I remind the Biden administration of what President Barack Obama 
said at a news conference before he left office: “For China ... the idea 
of one China is at the heart of their conception as a nation. And so if 
you are going to upend this understanding, you have to have thought through 
what the consequences are, because the Chinese will not treat that the way 
they'll treat some other issues. ... And their reaction on this issue could 
end up being very significant.”

Article Source

Copyright(c) Alliance for China's Peaceful Reunification, USA. All rights reserved.